Townsville hospital celebrates its 400th LDR brachytherapy patient


A hospital in Townsville, Australia has treated its 400th patient with low dose rate brachytherapy, 10 years after its first brachytherapy patient was successfully treated for prostate cancer.


Brachytherapy, where tiny radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate, provides a minimally invasive, targeted treatment for prostate cancer with positive results for patients’ long-term survival.


Mater Hospital’s 400th patient Mr Patterson chose to have brachytherapy rather than surgical removal as he thought it offered him better quality of life, having witnessed friends suffer side effects including incontinence and impotence following prostate surgery. A couple of hours after the procedure Mr Patterson was up, walking about and feeling no pain.


Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in Australian men, with 17250 new cases diagnosed last year. It can develop without any pain or symptoms and the hospitals 400th patient is now encouraging all men over 40 to have regular prostate checks to help detect the disease in its early stages. With regular checks and early detection, men can expect good outcomes from treatments such as LDR brachytherapy.

Meet the patient, Donald...


Donald “Duck” Patterson manages a large cattle station just outside rural Richmond, halfway between Cloncurry and Townsville in Far North Queensland, Australia. He loves the races and barracks for the North Queensland Cowboys (his favourite Rugby League team).


He recently became the 400th man to be treated with low dose brachytherapy for prostate cancer in Townsville.


The discovery of Donald’s prostate cancer was by chance. Just before Christmas 2015, at age 62, he had a routine colonoscopy for a separate health condition that detected an unusual lump. A biopsy and an MRI scan later, he was given the diagnosis. The news was all the more difficult as both his father and brother died from cancer and a cousin has battled prostate cancer for 12 years.


Donald feels lucky that the prostate cancer was detected early and thought he might have a better quality of life opting for brachytherapy rather than surgical removal and felt confident about the process.


After doing his own research on the subject of prostate cancer, he was attracted by the simplicity of the procedure, quicker recovery time and lower risk of side effects of impotence and incontinence.


Donald, 400th LDR brachytherapy patient

I had talked to some relations who had prostate cancer and had it cut out, and the complications they went through, even though they are managing it, they have had trouble

Mr Patterson said.


A couple of hours after the procedure, Donald was up and walking and felt no pain.

For Donald, the ability to have the seeds implanted and return directly back to the station was a key part of his choice. After first learning about it, he found a man who had the same procedure seven years ago and has completely recovered. While choosing a treatment wasn’t easy, he takes comfort from his cousin who endorses his choice and regrets not exploring his own treatment options more thoroughly.


Following his cancer diagnosis, Mr Patterson is encouraging all men over 40 to have both blood and physical prostate check-ups regularly and to look at all the treatment options fully and their side effects before choosing.


If I hadn't have kept my check-ups, I would never had found it and it probably would have been too late

400th LDR brachytherapy patient Townsville
400th LDR brachytherapy patient Townsville

Learn more about prostate cancer and LDR brachytherapy as a treatment option